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Tag: american kennel club

Supersize me: Americans turning to big dogs

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Big dogs — not that they ever left — are coming back.

In its annual report on breed popularity in the U.S., the American Kennel Club notes that, while the Labrador retriever is again the most popular dog breed, other large breeds are quickly moving up the list, including Dobermans, giant schnauzers and Great Danes.

According to the AKC, it could be a sign of an improving economy.

“Owning bigger breeds – an economic indicator of sorts – has been on the rise during the past five years,” said Lisa Peterson, AKC spokeswoman. “As the economy has improved, people are turning back to the big dogs they love, which cost more to feed and care for than the smaller breeds that saw a rise in popularity in 2007 and 2008.”

Labs took the top spot for the 23rd straight year, the longest consecutive reign of any dog in the annual ranking. The rankings are based on the number of AKC dog registrations across the country.

Here are the top 10, with links to their AKC profiles:

1. Labrador Retriever
2. German Shepherd Dog
3. Golden Retriever
4. Beagle
5. Bulldog
6. Yorkshire Terrier
7. Boxer
8. Poodle
9. Rottweiler
10. Dachshund

Comparing those rankings to the 2009 list, there’s evidence of a decline in small dog popularity — Yorkies dropped three places, from third, dachshunds dropped two, from eighth, and shih tzus fell out of the top 10 entirely.

Some smaller breeds saw a gain in popularity, like the French bulldog (now 11th). But far greater gains were made by greatly sized dogs: Doberman Pinschers rose from 22 to 12; Great Danes from 27 to 16; and Bernese Mountain Dogs from 47 to 32.

The AKC announced its rankings Friday, in advance of the upcoming Westminster Kennel Club dog show at Madison Square Garden.

Three new breeds will compete this year: rat terriers, Chinooks, and Portuguese Podengo Pequenos.

(Photo: Ash, a lab, or perhaps a lab mix (we didn’t ask for his papers), at play; by John Woestendiek)

NBC report questions AKC inspections

The American Kennel Club is doing a much better job of protecting bad breeders than it is protecting dogs.

That’s the gist of this investigative report that aired yesterday on NBC’s  “Today” show

The accusations aren’t exactly new, and weren’t exactly uncovered by NBC, but it’s good to see the issue getting some national attention.

The AKC, investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen notes, calls itself ”the dog’s champion …

“But critics say there’s an ugly reality you don’t see: Some AKC breeders raising diseased dogs, malnourished, living in their own filth. It’s so disturbing that now two of the country’s largest animal welfare groups, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society, are condemning the AKC.”

The report included an interview with one dog owner, who purchased a Great Dane from a kennel  only weeks after that kennel was inspected by the AKC and found in compliance. The puppy turned out to have intestinal parasites, an upper respiratory infection and a congenital eye defect.

“Law enforcement went into the kennel just two months later, and rescued dozens of dogs,” Rossen reported.

Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, is featured heavily in the report, and makes the point that the AKC should be working with animal welfare groups to protect dogs instead of protecting bad breeders and fighting laws that would crack down on them.

AKC Director of Communications Lisa Peterson, also interviewed for the report, says she would give the AKC an “A” for its inspection program.

But when the reporter asked how many breeders are producing AKC-registered dogs, she said, “That’s a great question. We don’t know.” And when asked what percentage of AKC registered breeders end up getting inspected, she wouldn’t offer a ball park figure.

“We do thousands of inspections annually,” Peterson said. “We’ve done 55,000 inspections since the year 2000.”

“But what percentage of breeders actually get inspected?”

“… I don’t have that figure,” Peterson said. “I’m sorry.”

Peterson said there are nine AKC inspectors in the U.S. Asked “Do you think that’s an adequate number?” she said, ”That’s the number that we have.”

Hickory snubs a steak from Sardis

Among the traditional perks of winning Westminster’s Best in Show are a trip to the top of the Empire State Building, ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange and going to Sardi’s in Manhattan for a steak.

You’d think that last one, at least, would appeal to the average dog — and especially to the pampered pooches that strut before the judges every year at the Westminster Dog Show.

But Hickory, the Scottish Deerhound chosen as Best in Show this week, had virtually no interest in the juicy filet, prepared medium rare, sliced into bite-sized chunks and placed in front of her at Sardi’s. She took only a taste or two before ignoring it entirely.

As her trainer pointed out, there were lots of lights, and hordes of media, and Hickory’s never been real big on steak in the first place.

You could view it as a photo op turned photo flop, but I kind of like the fact that she turned up her scruffy nose at the offering.

In light of all the human control inflicted on dogs during dogs shows, not to mention throughout history, I like seeing, for some reason, a little canine independence and rebelliousness exhibited in that setting. Of course, I don’t know what Hickory was thinking when that juicy red meat was set before her, but I like to think it was this:

Two hundred people have gathered, pulled up in their news vans, and started their cameras rolling, and are lined up outside  – all to watch me eat a steak? OK, then, I’m not going to do it.

Silly humans.

Westminster Dog Show: An opposing view

Best in Show

Best in Show Pictures

If the following take on Westminster reads like its coming from some PETA hothead that’s because it is.

Then agains, hotheads are sometimes worth listening to.

Lindsay Pollard-Post is a staff writer for The PETA Foundation, and her remarks appeared in the form of a guest column in the Sacramento Bee.

Pollard-Post recounts watching Westminster in her youth, usually with a bad case of strep throat, and with her dog Katie at her side…

“But had I known then that Westminster – and the dog-breeding industry that it props up – share the blame for the mutilation and deaths of millions of dogs each year, I would have changed the channel faster than you can say ‘Sesame Street.’

“Back then, I had no idea that the snub-nosed bulldogs and pugs prancing around the ring may have been gasping for breath the whole time because these breeds’ unnaturally shortened airways make exercise and sometimes even normal breathing difficult. I didn’t know that the “wiener dogs” that made me laugh as their little legs tried to keep up may have eventually suffered from disc disease or other back problems because dachshunds are bred for extremely long spinal columns. I didn’t learn until much later that because of inbreeding and breeding for distorted physical features, approximately one in four purebred dogs suffers from serious congenital disorders such as crippling hip dysplasia, blindness, deafness, heart defects, skin problems and epilepsy.

“I remember feeling shocked when I learned that Doberman pinschers’ ears naturally flop over, and that their ears only stand up because they are cut and bound with tape when the dogs are puppies. And I felt sick to my stomach when I discovered that cocker spaniels have beautiful, long, flowing tails, but American Kennel Club breed standards call for their tails to be amputated down to nubs. The American Veterinary Medical Association says that these procedures ‘are not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient’ and they ’cause pain and distress.’

“… Like many people, I hadn’t made the connection that every time someone buys a purebred dog from a breeder or a pet store, a dog in a shelter – a loving animal whose life depends on being adopted – loses his or her chance at a home …

“Dog shows also encourage viewers to go out and buy purebred dogs like the ones they see on TV from breeders or pet stores. This impulse buying robs shelter dogs of homes, and even more dogs end up homeless when overwhelmed people discover that the adorable puppy they bought ruins carpets, needs expensive vaccinations and food and requires their constant attention.

“My own parents succumbed to the lure of purebreds: They purchased Katie from a breeder. Katie was an exceptional dog and my best friend, but it saddens me to think that other loving dogs waiting behind bars in shelters missed out on a good home because we thought we needed a certain breed of puppy.

“Thankfully, some things have changed. After Katie passed away, my parents adopted a lovable mutt from the local shelter. I haven’t had strep throat since I was a teenager. And if the dreaded illness strikes again, you’ll find me cuddling on the couch with my rescued dog, Pete, watching movies – not Westminster.”

Labs still tops; beagles, bulldogs rising

For the 20th year in a row, the Labrador retriever is America’s top dog.

While America’s three most popular dog breeds remained the same — Lab, German shepherd and Yorkshire terrier – the American Kennel Club’s annual list of most oft-registered purebreds had some surprises.

The beagle overtook the golden retriever for the No. 4 spot.

And the bulldog, who has been steadily rising up in rank, took 6th place away from the boxer.

“Not since the early 20th Century has the bulldog enjoyed such sustained popularity,” said AKC Spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “‘Bob’ was the first AKC registered bulldog in 1886, and today the breed enjoys its highest ranking in 100 years at number 6.”

The AKC numbers are based on the numbers of purebreds registered with the organization.

Baltimore’s top five breeds reflected the national averages, except for the presence of the Rottweiler at No. 5.

Chihuahuas, ranked 13th nationally, were the sixth most popular breed for Baltimore.

Some other national highlights from the AKC’s count:

  • The French bulldog made the largest leap in the past decade, jumping 50 places from 71st to 21st. Other breeds with the biggest increase in rankings over the last decade include the Havanese (from 86th to 31st) and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (from 54th to 23rd).
  • Closing the gap this year, a couple of breeds that had been on the decline over the past decade made double digit increases over the past year — Keeshonden (from 102nd to 87th) and Anatolian shepherd dogs (from 115th to 109th).
  • Three new breeds entered AKC’s registry in 2010, and the larger the breed, the higher they appeared in the rankings. The Leonberger, the largest of the new breeds, was ranked 33rd; the Cane Corso ranked 51st; and the smallest of the new breeds, the Icelandic sheepdog, came in at 82nd.

AKC recognizes three new breeds

There are now 167 breeds of dogs recognized by the American Kennel Club.

The AKC has announced that the Icelandic Sheepdog will join the herding group, and the Cane Corso and Leonberger will both join the working group.

The new breeds became eligible for AKC registration on June 1, 2010 and, as of yesterday, became eligible for competitions.

The Cane Corso is a muscular and large-boned breed — one of two native Italian mastiff type dogs that descended from the Roman canis Pugnaces. The Cane Corso is known as a watchdog and hunter of difficult game such as wild boar.  According to the AKC, the breed is intelligent, easily trained, and affectionate to his owner while loving with children and family.

The Icelandic Sheepdog is a playful, friendly and inquisitive breed, the AKC says, known for being hardy and agile — helpful traits when you live in Iceland.

Slightly under medium size with pointy ears and a curled tail, the breed has two coat types, long and short, and is Iceland’s only native dog. 

The Icelandic Sheepdog adapted its working style to Iceland’s terrain and farming techniques since its arrival to the country more than 1,000 years ago. Today, the breed is increasing in popularity, and while still small in numbers, is no longer close to extinction. 

The Leonberger, despite its lion-like looks and large size, is a calm and non-aggressive breed. The Leonberger was originally bred as a family, farm and draft dog.  Today the breed excels as a multi-purpose working dog but the most important task is being a reliable family companion.  In fact, Leonbergers are often called the “nanny” dog because of their affinity for children. 

Breeds trying to gain full AKC recognition must first be recorded with the AKC Foundation Stock Service (FSS).  While there is no established timetable for adding new breeds, dogs typically compete in the “Miscellaneous Class” for one to three years before gaining recognition.

More information on the process can be found at the AKC’s website.

The scoop on Sadie

sadie_WestminsterHere’s the lowdown on America’s new top dog, courtesy of the American Kennel Club.

Breed: Scottish Terrier

AKC Name: CH Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot. (Sadie’s father and his littermates were all named for cars.)

Age: 4 years

Residence: Rialto, California

Biggest Wins: “National Champion” at the 2009 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship; Best in Show at both the 2009 Montgomery County Kennel Club and Philadelphia Kennel Club Dog Shows; won the Terrier Group at the 2009 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Seventy-nine Best in Show wins in 2009.

Favorite Pastime: When she’s not at home playing in the backyard or snuggling on the couch with her handler, Gabriel Rangel, Sadie loves being at dog shows. She loves the attention, the roar of the crowd and the treats she gets in the ring, the AKC says. When judges look at her, she looks back and makes it clear that she expects to be admired.

Favorite Treat: Sadie loves hot dogs made from organic chicken.

Exercise regimen: A long walk in deep grass in the morning and afternoon workouts on her treadmill

Beauty Regimen: Daily brushing, with a hair trim early in the week; on the morning of a show, she is bathed and blown dry.

Pedigree: Sadie is descended from the 1967 Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show winner Ch. Bardene Bingo. Bingo’s handler, Bob Bartos admires Sadie so much that he lets Sadie use Bingo’s show lead.

Fetishes: Sadie has a penchant for footwear. If a closet door is left open, Sadie helps herself to the lining of Rangel’s shoes.

Best friend: A Chihuahua named Tad.

Sleeping habits: In bed with her human family.

Money breeds success at Westminster

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The 134th Westminster Dog Show kicks off today in Madison Square Garden, with 173 breeds — including three newly recognized by the American Kennel Club — competing for the honor of best in show.

“The most prestigious event on the thoroughbred canine calendar” is how the New York Times characterized the show in an article this weekend — and one in which bucks and hype play large roles in determining the winner:

“Among breeders, owners and handlers, it’s understood: you can’t just turn up with the paradigm of the breed, if such an animal exists, and expect a best-in-show ribbon. To seriously vie for victory, a dog needs what is known as a campaign: an exhausting, time-consuming and very expensive gantlet of dog show wins, buttressed by ads in publications like Dog News and The Canine Chronicle.”

Breeders will commonly spend $100,000 a year on ads touting their dog, and that’s just part of the investment.

“Altogether, a top-notch campaign can easily cost more than $300,000 a year, and because it takes time to build momentum and a reputation, a typical campaign lasts for two or three years. Kathy Kirk, who handled Rufus, a colored bull terrier who won best in show at Westminster in 2006, estimates that the dog’s three-year campaign cost about $700,000,” the article said.

Among the 2,500 dogs hoping to follow in Rufus’ footsteps will be some from three newly recognized breeds, competing for the first time — the Irish Red and White Setter joins the Sporting Group; and the Norwegian Buhund and the Pyrenean Shepherd debut in the Herding Group.lg_norwegian_buhund7

Despite its name, the Irish Red and White Setter (above) is a distinct breed, not just a different colored version of the Irish Setter. Bred primarily for the field, they are strong, powerful and athletic, with a keen and intelligent attitude.

The Norwegian Buhund (left) once the companion of Vikings, is a versatile farm dog == black or cream colored — from Norway, where they’ve been used to herd livestock, guard property and hunt game.

lg_pyrenean_shepherd1The Pyrenean Shepherd (left again) is also known by its French name, Berger des Pyrénées, but fanciers of the breed in America often shorten the name to “Pyr shep.” Native to the mountains of southern France, the breed has guarded sheep since medieval times.

The three new breeds will be represented by 29 individual dogs in the show. The newcomers bring this year’s show total to 173 breeds and varieties, up from about 150 two decades ago.

Here’s the TV schedule

NIGHT 1:
Monday, February 15
Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding Groups
8-9 p.m. (ET) live on USA Network
9-11 p.m. (ET) live on CNBC

NIGHT 2:
Tuesday, February 16
Sporting, Working and Terrier Groups, Best In Show
8-11 p.m. (ET) live on USA Network

Breed judging highlight videos are available throughout the day on Monday and Tuesday at the Westminster website.

Spotting trends in the AKC’s breed count

lg_havanese10In the process of tallying the numbers of purebred dogs in America — or at least those that are registered — the American Kennel Club detected some interesting trends, such as how the nation’s most popular dog, the Labrador retriever, is losing ground in some towns.

The fastest climbing breed, meanwhile, in terms of popularity, is the Havanese.

According to the AKC figures, more U.S. cities featured a breed other than the Labrador Retriever in the top spot this year than in 2008.

The German shepherd took over as No. 1 in Columbus, Detroit, Honolulu, Memphis, Miami, Providence and West Palm Beach.

The Yorkshire terrier bumped the Lab in Oakland, Tampa, New York City and Philadelphia.

And the bulldog became top dog in Los Angeles (despite other surveys that say Chihuahuas are the most predominant breed there). The AKC says celebrity bulldog owners — Adam Sandler, Kelly Osborne and John Legend among them — might be a reason behind the bulldog’s rise.

In what strikes me as a particularly odd tidbit, the bull terrier — 57th nationally — is the most popular breed in Newark, N.J. (Please feel free to explain that to me if you know the story behind it.)

To find out where your dog ranks nationally (keeping in mind the nation’s most popular dog isn’t a breed at all, but the mutt), click here.

There was only one city in America where the Labrador retriever didn’t factor into the Top 5 – Providence, R.I. In 2008, the Lab was No. 2 in Providence.

Over the past 10 years, the AKC says, the fastest growing breed nationally is the Havanese, having risen from 92nd to 32nd. Also rising quickly in national popularity have been the bulldog (from 21st to 7th); the French bulldog (from 73rd to 24th); and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (from 58th to 25th).

Working K-9 breeds favored by law enforcement and the military have shown modest gains as pets over the same period, with the Belgian Malinois seeing its popularity rise from 95th to 81st, the border collie going from 71st to 52nd, the bloodhound rising from 51st to 43rd, and the Doberman pinscher climbing 23rd to 15th.

The AKC suspects easy-to-groom breeds are becoming more popular, as evidenced by the mastiff climbing from 39th to 27th and the Rhodesian ridgeback going from 56th to 48th. Higher maintenance breeds, meanwhile, such as the  Komondor, the Puli, the Irish terrier and the Sealyham terrier, have all seen their AKC popularity ranking drop in the past 10 years.

Even pre-Bo, the AKC, the Portuguese water dog was on the rise in popularity. The breed chosen by the First Family ranked 80th a decade ago and climbed to 60th in 2009.

(Photo: The Havanese, America’s fastest growing breed/Courtesy of AKC)

Labs rule in Baltimore, Yorkies are second

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The Labrador retriever remains the most popular breed in Baltimore, but the Yorkshire terrier jumped three spots to become the city’s second most popular breed in 2009.

The top five breeds of Baltimore, according to American Kennel Club figures released today, are:

1. Labrador Retriever
2. Yorkshire Terrier
3. Boxer
4. Golden Retriever
5. German Shepherd/Poodle/Rottweiler (tied)

“In 2009, the Top 5 also saw the rise of two hard-working breeds with jobs – the poodle and the Rottweiler – perhaps reflecting the nose to the grindstone nature of Baltimore,” AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson noted.

To see the top breeds in your city (or at least 50 cities), click here.

As for you Baltimore readers, you can return to your grindstones now.

(Photo: Yorkshire Terriers jumped to No. 2 in Baltimore/By John Woestendiek)

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